NFL officials have offered to work with the NFL Players Association on the potential of cannabis as a pain management tool for players, according to a Washington Post report. In a letter, league officials outlined areas for potential research including pain management for acute and chronic conditions.
The letter comes one week after a study was published in the medical journal JAMA which found Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain disease, in the brains of 110 of 111 deceased former players. Several studies have purported that cannabis has neuroprotective qualities; the most recent was conducted by researchers at Israel’s Tel Aviv University’s Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases as the Sackler Faculty of Medicine published in 2013.
“We look forward to working with the Players Association on all issues involving the health and safety of our players,” said Joe Lockhart, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, in the report.
The union has been independently investigating alternative pain management treatments, convening a pain management committee last year. Additionally, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has called on the league to relax its cannabis policies, urging league officials “to not simply assume recreation is the reason [cannabis] is being used” by players. In May, Smith said in an interview with ESPN Outside the Lines that the union intends to present a proposal to the league “that has probably a more therapeutic approach” to players who test positive for cannabis.
The NFLPA has not publicly responded to the league request to collaborate on the potential of medical cannabis use in the league.